Accepted paper:

In the light and shadow: turning the dead to keep the world alive.

Authors:

Christel Mattheeuws (Aberdeen University)

Paper short abstract:

Astrological practice in West Bezanozano takes part in life’s magic interplay of light and shadow, heaven and earth, sky and soil. I will elaborate this theme through the ritual of the famadihana (turning the dead into ancestors) because this is the most extreme example of how people in West Bezanozano deal with the play of life and death without their world falling apart and become deadly instead of life-giving.

Paper long abstract:

Astrology in West Bezanozano can be defined by the foundational sensations of light and shade according to the crosswise leadership of the sun and moon. Astrological practice in West Bezanozano takes part in life's magic interplay of light and shadow, heaven and earth, sky and soil. I will elaborate this theme through the ritual of the famadihana (turning the dead into ancestors) because this is the most extreme example of how people in West Bezanozano deal with the play of life and death without their world falling apart and become deadly instead of life-giving. I will show how the astrologer creates a secure path from the village to the grave so that the living can bring the blessed shrouds and the spirits of the dead to the tomb to unite them with the bones. As such, the dead are raised from their dwelling in the decaying and deadly soil in which the bones have emerged towards the sacred, life-giving realm of the ancestors. In the tomb they will no longer be put on the lowest level beneath the ground level but on a higher level (the part of the tomb that is above ground level). The rewrapped dead will be able to give life to new bodies, places and activities started by the living whenever they are called during blessings appearing in step with the winter sun ascending in the sacred northeast at 9 am.

panel WMW12
Surfaces: contesting boundaries between materials, mind and body